UAAP Season 75 Outlook: The CONTENDERS: De La Salle Green Archers & FEU Tamaraws

Will Mark Bringas's Tamaraws return to the Finals, or
will Jarelan Tampus and the Archers take their place?
(images compressed are from Arvin Lim/


Who's out:
Sam Marata, Simon Atkins, Dan Sara, Maui Villanueva, Martin Reyes

Who's new:
Returnee: Jed Manguera
Newbies: Mark Tallo, Jeron Teng, Gabby Reyes, Thomas Torres

Season 74 Record & Finish: 5-9, 6th place

2012 Filoil Record & Finish: 7-4, finished third in Group B and advanced to the Finals, where they lost to NU

Preseason Positives:
There were a lot of things that went well for the Green Archers in the preseason, and many of these were really due to one overarching reason: defying what their moniker might suggest, the Archers went inside deep and often.

They went inside to Norbert Torres and Yutien Andrada. Star rookie Jeron Teng repeatedly made beelines to the basket. The Archers had the second-fewest three-point attempts among all the UAAP squads. Quite uncharacteristic, right?

Yes, but that could be what’ll make them more dangerous in Season 75. With the exit of both Simon Atkins and Sam Marata, it’s pretty clear rookie UAAP coach Gee Abanilla will have to look down low for most of his offense. And he has great tools in Torres, Andrada, and Teng.

The early returns indicate Abanilla’s onto something here. La Salle was top 3 among UAAP teams in FG shooting at 39.4%. That’s not exactly stellar, but it’s a definite plus knowing your team is taking it strong instead of settling for jumpers. The focus on the interior has also led to DLSU attempting 22 freebies per game, which was third among UAAP clubs.

The Green & White have also seemed to tighten up on the defensive end. La Salle finished as the second-best shot-blocking team in the preseason with 4.7bpg. That’s thanks mainly to Torres and Andrada pairing up for almost 3 rejections per outing. That improved inside D has also helped the Archers become one of the top defensive teams, allowing just 63.8ppg for their opponents. At 45.0 rpg, DLSU was also the second-best rebounding group in the summer, netting an average plus 4 difference on the boards against their foes.

Looks like the big changes post-Season 74 might be reaping dividends faster than expected.

Preseason Concerns:
Before the DLSU fans can break out the alcohol, however, they have to temper their expectations with the following chinks in their armor.

Perhaps due to the fact that much of their offense revolves around pounding the ball down low to Norbert Torres or watching Jeron Teng break his man down and go strong/fish for a foul, the assist numbers of DLSU aren’t super impressive. At 13.7 dimes per game, the Archers were second-worst among UAAP teams in the preseason. A bright spot, though, was the play of almost-Blue Eagle Mark Tallo, who led the Greenies with 3.1 assists per outing.

Another surprising dip for the Taft quintet was steals. In Season 74, DLSU averaged about 4.7 steals per game, but that number went down to just 3.5 in the preseason. The culprit? I’m not really certain, but I’m guessing the absence of the Pumaren press might be a factor.

Of course, La Salle wouldn’t be La Salle without awful free throw shooting. Last season, they shot about 51% from the line. They upped that in the preseason to a more respectable 63.6% clip, but that still places them in the bottom half of all Filoil teams. The good news is the guy who got to the line the most during the summer, Jeron Teng, actually hit 74% of his freebies. The bad news, however, is that the other guys who normed about 2 free throw attempts per game, Norbert Torres, Jovet Mendoza, and Joshua Webb, collectively shot just 59%.

What should work in S75:
Those preseason issues notwithstanding, the La Salle faithful should feel renewed hope for the coming UAAP wars. This is primarily due to the new coaching staff seemingly able to adjust well to what the team really needs – a new system.

What we all have to remember is that by and large this is not Gee Abanilla’s team, or, more accurately, this is not a team he formed 100%. Of the guys on his roster, Abanilla directly recruited (maybe not even) the bona fide rookies – Teng, Gabby Reyes, and Thomas Torres (Tallo is technically not counted because he’s in his sophomore year in college already). The natural implication of this is Abanilla has to put in a system that plays to the strengths of the players. He cannot, or should not, force the players to buy into a system they’re not really suited for.

This early, it’s pretty evident Abanilla is utilizing his best players’ strengths. Norbert Torres is carving space down low instead of mimicking Dirk Nowitzki. Yutien Andrada’s defense is making us all remember why there were Tayshaun Prince comparisons in his rookie season. Almond Vosotros’s outside shooting is being maximized. Mark Tallo has enough room to create, given his awesome streetball handles. And Jeron Teng is being cleared enough space to wreak havoc with his trademark penetration.

We should more of Norbert Torres's face near Emmanuel
Mbe's underarm in Season 75.
(image by Jan Dizon/Filoil Flying V Sports)

So far it’s all looked good.

And speaking of Teng – man, he’s exceeded my expectations so far. Not that it matters to him, but I really thought his progress would start a little slower than it has. Instead, at least in some preseason games, it looked as if he has already become La Salle’s main man. Think of that big three in the waning moments against Ateneo, and you can be forgiven for making Mac Cardona comparisons. Will he do a Parks and become the MVP? I don’t think so. Will he do a Kiefer and be a shoo-in for the ROY? Barring any injuries, I think it’s a foregone conclusion.

What will be tough in S75:
What isn’t a foregone conclusion, however, is whether all those positive things can actually outweigh all the team’s negatives throughout a 14-game season.

Like what was mentioned earlier, free throw shooting is still a nagging issue. Sure, Teng, Webb, Luigi dela Paz and Co. might be able to continuously slash and get hacked, but if they cannot hit their charities, then what’s the use?

Another possible issue is the distribution of playing time. On some level, this undoubtedly factored in on the numerous green-to-elsewhere defections of the past couple of seasons. Will guys be given the playing time they expect? Will their talents be utilized enough? Will they see enough burn time for them to warm up and/or get a rhythm going?

For guys like Jovet Mendoza and Jed Manguera, that might not be a problem. So far, they’ve shown a propensity to really play their respective roles to the hilt, but what about the other guys?

What about guys like Jarelan Tampus, Ponso Gotladera, dela Paz, or even Arnold Van Opstal? These guys need to see significant daylight to really be effective. Will they be able to adjust, or will the prospect of green pastures turn into broken promises instead?

In conclusion:
I think Norbert Torres will give Greg Slaughter, Emmanuel Mbe, and Karim Abdul a run for their money as the league’s best big man. I think Jeron Teng is the standard for all newcomers this season. I think Gee Abanilla is on the right track. I see DLSU making the Final Four and making life difficult for whomever they’ll face, but, like in previous seasons, I also see them having the occasional stumble to a team like UE or UP. 4th spot.


Who's out:
Aldrech Ramos, JR Cawaling, Ping Exciminiano, Pipo Noundou, Christian Sentcheu, AA Fabian

Who's new:
Raymar Jose, Arvie Bringas, Anthony Hargrove, Mark Belo, Patrick Guerrero, Antonio Iñigo, Jr.

Season 74 Record & Finish: 9-5, 3rd seed in the Final Four, where they beat Adamson twice, and then advanced to the Finals, where they got swept by Ateneo

2012 Filoil Record & Finish: 6-3, advanced to the quarterfinals, but got eliminated by Ateneo.

Preseason Positives:
FEU is FEU. They’re good at playing two-way basketball. They excel offensively and defensively. Their performance this past summer is proof.

They were the second-best UAAP team in FG shooting (39.6%) and were top 3 overall in scoring (71.3ppg). They didn’t have much trouble on the offensive end, what with RR Garcia, Terrence Romeo, and Anthony Hargrove all averaging in twin digits. Garcia and Romeo lived up to their billing as volume shooters while Hargrove was well-settled at the slot, averaging 10 points and nearly 8 rebounds per game. FEU was also the second-best UAAP team in terms of taking care of the ball.

The Tamaraws were plenty to handle on defense, too. They forced more than 16 turnovers from their opponents on average, and were top 5 overall in points allowed. They allowed the opposition to score just 65.8ppg. And because nobody on the FEU roster is really near the top in terms of blocks and steals, we can only assume that their team defense and rotation really contributed to making life difficult for their foes.

Preseason Concerns:
That’s not to say life was all rosy for the Tamaraws themselves. It seems that even with shooters of renown like Garcia, Romeo, and Cris Tolomia, the Green & Gold still found a way to be tied as the worst-shooting UAAP squad from beyond the arc. They connected on just 39 of 165 attempts from rainbow country, which is good for well under 24%. Considering how they hoisted, on average, about 19 threes a game, that might just be a really slippery slope for them.

It seems they also struggled with defending the three, as they allowed their opponents to make about 4.6 triples per outing, which is the highest of any UAAP squad. Coach Bert Flores will have to tinker with his close outs if the Tams are to improve these numbers.

Another thing FEU will probably have to look at is just how serious RR Garcia’s ankle injury is. In one interview about a week ago, he said was just at 70%, which, considering how players like underplaying their pains and aches, might be an optimistic estimate. If, indeed, Garcia plays around or below 70%, then can anyone else facilitate the offense with relative efficiency? Neither Romeo nor Tolomia are known playmakers, they’re both scorers, so who will take the cudgels?

Just how healthy will RR Garcia be when Season 75
begins this weekend?
(image by Carl Sta. Ana/Filoil Flying V Sports)

What should work in S75:
Still, a 70% RR Garcia is better than the 100% of most guards out there. He should remain a steadying force for FEU, and, last I checked, point guards can still make good decisions even with gimpy ankles.

Suffice to say, FEU’s backcourt trio is going to be the most prolific this season. LA Revilla, Mark Tallo, and Almond Vosotros will be interesting. Jeric Fortuna, Jeric Teng, and Clark Bautista will all put up a lot of shots. The group of Gelo Alolino, Mark De Guzman, and Cedrick Labing-isa in NU is pretty good, too. But this Morayta combo is going to be the best of ‘em. They combined for 35.6 points, 8.3 assists, and 4.2 treys per game in the preseason – scary by any standard.

FEU also has the requisite title contender intangibles in spades – experience and toughness. Their last two trips to the Finals, though both ended in utter defeat, should continue to make them headier in critical moments, while the addition of Baste bruiser Arvie Bringas should make their fierce frontline even more menacing.

What will be tough in S75:
What FEU has in spunk and toughness, however, they somehow lost in terms of versatility. Garcia, Romeo, and Tolomia can all play 1 or 2. Hargrove, the Bringas boys, Carl Cruz, and Russel Escoto are all strictly frontcourt beasts. What’s missing?

Think Reil Cervantes, Arwind Santos, Mac Baracael, JR Cawaling, and Marlon Adolfo – the prototypical FEU swingman who’s long on limbs and talent. Solid guards and big men coach Flores has, but who will he use to counter Jeron Teng, or Ryan Buenafe, or Ray Parks? Cruz might be too slow. Tolomia and Romeo might be bullied in the post. Roger Pogoy? Unless he becomes the new Ping Exciminiano, then forget it.

In conclusion:
There aren’t a lot of things wrong with FEU. Truth be told, much of the criticism here is nothing more than nitpicking. Having said that, the Tams aren’t the juggernauts they once were. With RR Garcia and Terrence Romeo explosive, but volatile, scorers, and Anthony Hargrove yet untested in actual UAAP competition, it’s difficult to place the Morayta quintet at the very top. Still, anything less than a Final Four berth will be complete failure. 3rd place.

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3 Comment

You forgot one thing bro! Do you think Norbert Torres will play the way he did during the Fil-Oil when AVO comes back? They really struggled when they played together last season. If they use AVO as a 5, and Norbert Torres as a 4, I think he's going to go back to shooting those jumpers again. Let's wait and see though :D OBF!
Great read and keep it up Enzo, loved to podcast especially the instrumental at the start hahaha!


Ey Drei! I actually think Torres will continue to play well! I'm pretty sure AVO will play off the bench and Andrada/Mendoza will start at 4. I really doubt if Abanilla will go back to the Torres of last year haha


La Salle at number 4? If you're right, then that means we're finally gonna be facing those jokers in the Final Four for the first time since we booted them out of the Finals back in '08. Can't wait!